Old school guide to money and marriage

By Bahiyah Shabazz, MBA

Marriage Day

Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

Imagine watching your grandparents on a typical afternoon. Your grandmother is in the kitchen cleaning while your grandfather is reading the current events. She makes him a snack and he smiles with appreciation.

For some of you that imagination don’t exist, for others it’s a memory that will forever last. Before the time when two income households were required in order to make ends meet, there were two responsible individuals making money and marriage work with what was provided to them.

During 1945, the average cost of living was extremely less expensive than it is today. Since the cost of living was lower, the value system in each household was higher. This is not to say that today, households aren’t completely respecting the entity of marriage, but it is to say that most should place more value on the happiness of each other than material possessions.

Number don’t lie





Avg. annual income




Avg. cost of house*




*Depends on area

One may ask, “How could anyone live on such a small income in 1945?” Simple, the cost of living was lower and couples learn to manage time, respect, responsibilities, and money. Couples knew their roles in a marriage and how to take care of what was needed in the household. Although the men were the head of the household (such as now in most cases), they still were able to allow the wives to take care of the household responsibilities.

It’s unfortunate that today couples are competing with each other instead of working as a team. If you were to do a credit check, many couples don’t own much together. They are essentially living as roommates. With that being said, there is a lack of communication when it comes to discussing the needs of each other and the household. If you aren’t sharing with one another, you aren’t obligated to converse with one another.

Communication is one of the keys to a successful marriage and money.

We got something in common

Many looking from the outside in would often wonder how couples are working as one. It’s a unit that can not be divided as long as you have a common interest and respect. There should be respect for each other and money as oppose to the worship of a dollar.

Before a Budget was known as it is today, couples would save to pay cash. Though the concept of credit has existed longer even than money, it wasn’t until 1950 that the modern credit card was invented. Again, before the idea of a credit card couples would…just pay cash.

Paying cash for items alleviated some pressure from the marriage; however, the Great Depression did put a strain on relationships.  Unlike today, many couples stuck through the demands of financial difficulty.

During 1940-46: the average divorce rate ( per 1,000 people) was 2.8. The economic hardship of the Depression made couples somewhat less likely to divorce, as individuals (especially women) stuck in unhappy marriages often decided to tough it out rather than risk financial ruin by leaving their spouses. The very different tensions caused by World War II, by contrast, brought a spike in the divorce rate, and divorce rates throughout the postwar period never fell back to levels as low as in the 1930s.[1]

Since most couples live as roommates, women aren’t as compelled to stick it out through the financial challenges.

Revisit what works

There seems to be a common theme when it comes to the guidance of old school marriage and money. The themes are respect, communication, responsibilities and unit. If more couples would incorporate what was done in the past then more marriages may survive today.

Cash is King, it was King then and it will always be King. When you don’t depend on credit cards to make ends meet then you aren’t as stressed to meet the demands of the creditors.   You will only be compelled to meet the demands of your spouse.

[1] Historical Statistics of the United States: Bicentennial Edition, Colonial Times to 1970, Vol. 1 (Washington DC: 1975), p. 64, http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/documents/CT1970p1-03.pdf, accessed2 February 2009.


“Love yourself enough to support yourself.” BL Shabazz


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